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Ban on B.C. wines not affecting Edmonton’s Winefest

Click to play video: 'Edmonton wine event wades into political arena' Edmonton wine event wades into political arena
WATCH ABOVE: People attending a popular Edmonton wine event shared their thoughts on the B.C. wine ban. Kim Smith reports – Feb 17, 2018

Ten days after Alberta Premier Rachel Notley introduced an immediate halt on the import of British Columbia wine, Winefest has announced there will still be B.C. wines at the popular event.

The fate of the the eight B.C. wineries signed up to attend the festival had been up in the air as organizers emailed ticketholders to ask whether they would still like to taste B.C. wines.

READ MORE: How long until Alberta runs out of B.C. wine?

“The vast majority did still want to see B.C. wines,” festival director Cathy Cook told the Ryan Jespersen Show on Friday morning. “Seventy-six per cent said yes, 15 per cent were indifferent and nine per cent didn’t want to taste for varying reasons. Part of that was the ban, part of it was because they don’t really drink B.C. wines.”

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LISTEN: Cathy Cook talks B.C. wine on the Ryan Jespersen Show

The festival also gave wineries the option on whether they still wanted to attend. Cook said all of them decided they still wanted to come.

“B.C. wines are very popular in Alberta,” she said. “People love supporting Canadian wineries and Canadian products in general so there’s a lot of passion there.”

READ MORE: B.C. and Alberta are feuding over wine: Here’s what the trade dispute is really about

One of the B.C. wineries in attendance was Dirty Laundry Vineyard from Summerland. The company is owned by a group of Albertans.

“I absolutely support our position that we need a way to market our oil. I’m absolutely flabbergasted that they think that targeting the Okanagan Valley is going to make that happen. It’s a very small piece of B.C’s economy,” Paul Sawler, director of sales and marketing and an Albertan, said.

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“There are a lot of Albertans that this is affecting, as well as people from B.C.”

Sawler said his company received a warm reception from Albertans at Winefest.

“Not a single note of disapproval. People are coming. They are very happy that we are here.”

Due to the fact that Winefest is organized so far in advance, the wine for the event was already in the province before the ban was put in place.

Notley introduced the wine ban on Feb. 6 in response to the B.C. government’s proposed ban on increased bitumen shipments through the Trans Mountain pipeline.

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